The Denver Broncos lost to the Cincinnati Bengals on the road 37-28. It was a weird game from the start, especially from the Broncos offense. Their play-calling was predictable and poorly executed. The offensive line could not do their jobs in pass protection or run blocking. It was a mess of a performance.
This is easily the Broncos second worst performance, as a unit, all season; second only to their loss to the St. Louis Rams. There was a lot of bad going around for the Broncos offense and very little good. That looked like it would change to start the second half, but it soon reverted back to the horrible play from the first half.
With that said, it is time to get to the player grades. As always, each player will start with a C. A positive impact on a play helps their grade, while a negative play hurts it.
Snaps: 70. Stats: 28-of-44 for 311 yards and 2 touchdowns. Threw 4 interceptions and had 4 passes dropped.
Manning played a horrible game. It was arguably his worst in a Broncos uniform. He threw four interceptions, two of them being returned for a touchdown. He also made multiple throws that were questionable decisions. He had open receivers that he just missed and instead, tried forcing something that was not there. His grade: F.
Snaps: 64. Stats: 18 rushes for 83 yards and 1 touchdown, with a 4.6 yards per carry. Forced 5 missed tackles. Targeted 10 times, catching 8 passes for 55 yards. Dropped 1 pass.
Anderson played a solid game, but nothing special. Part of the problem lies with him, but most of it goes on the putrid run blocking by the offensive line. He was consistently met in the backfield by the Bengals defense. He played solidly as a receiver, but dropped some easy passes. He showed the worst as a pass blocker, where he had a hard time picking up the blitz, or even maintaining his block. His grade: C-.
Snaps: 5. Stats: 1 rush for 2 yards. Targeted 1 time, with zero catches. Dropped 1 pass.
Thompson was largely ineffective when he came onto the field for the Broncos. His one rush went for pretty much nothing, though not all because of Thompson. As a receiver, he dropped the one pass thrown his way. His grade: D+.
Snaps: 1. Stats: None.
Stewart played one snap, which came as a pass play. He went out as a receiver, but did not get looked at as a target. He did nothing bad, but also nothing good. His grade: C.
Snaps: 69. Stats: Targeted 14 times, catching 7 passes for 115 yards. Dropped 1 pass.
Thomas played a solid game. Considering everyone else on the offense, you can almost call it a great game. He did have a drop and a couple near drops, however. The Bengals were inconsistent in their coverage of him, but managed three big plays while covering him. All three were interceptions. Thomas looked strong and confident as a runner after the catch and running his routes. Outside of one play, where he was in the wrong spot on a pass, he played really well. His grade: B.
Snaps: 63. Stats: 7 targets, catching 6 passes for 70 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Sanders went through portions of the game where he was not a factor. But then he had portions when he was a major factor for the Broncos offense. He started off making a nice catch on a bad throw. Then later in the game, he made one of the best catches of the season on tight coverage, one-handed. His grade: B.
WR Wes Welker
Snaps: 59. Stats: Targeted 4 times, catching 4 passes for 30 yards.
Welker played a solid game as a receiver. When Manning needed some yards, Welker was there to pick them up. He was able to find some space and get open. He was there for Manning when Manning needed him. As the game went on, the Broncos offense shifted away from Welker and more towards looking for big plays from more athletic receivers. His grade: B.
WR Cody Latimer
Snaps: 6. Stats: None.
Latimer saw offensive snaps over Andre Caldwell for the first time on the season. On his six snaps, he was a receiver on five of them and a blocker on the other one. He played well as a receiver, despite never getting a target from Manning. As a blocker, he was strong at the point of attack. His grade: C+.
TE Virgil Green
Snaps: 18. Stats: None.
Green continues to be used mostly as a blocker. 12 of his 18 snaps came as a blocker. He did see 6 snaps as a receiver, but got no looks from Manning. He was then pulled from the game as the Broncos got behind and had to go away from their run game. His grade: B-.
Snaps: 46. Stats: Targeted 6 times, catching 2 passes for 33 yards. Dropped 1 pass.
Thomas is soft. There is no other way of putting it. He was consistently beaten physically, both as a blocker and a receiver. He was not fighting for the ball and had it taken from him once. A couple other times, he also failed to fight for the ball, and those were also almost intercepted. As a blocker, he was his usual self, beaten consistently. He is hurt and tried to fight through it with no success. His grade: F.
TE Jacob Tamme
Snaps: 7. Stats: Targeted 2 times, catching 1 pass for 8 yards.
It is time for Tamme to ride the bench. He has become completely ineffective for the Broncos for multiple weeks. At least the Broncos have gone away from using him as a blocker, where he is exceptionally poor. His grade: D.
LT Ryan Clady
Snaps: 70. Stats: 4 quarterback hurries allowed.
Clady has played horrendously the past few weeks. He has been somewhat of a revolving door in pass protection. His run blocking has struggled all season, and it was no different against the Bengals. He was playing hurt, but he has not been the All-Pro he once was, all season. His grade: D-.
Snaps: 70. Stats: 2 quarterback hurries allowed.
Franklin has gone from struggling consistently on the Broncos offensive line, to being the most consistent. His run blocking has improved dramatically since the loss to the Rams. His pass blocking is still not his biggest strength, but it is not the obvious weakness it was. He has shored up every aspect of his game on his way to consistency. His grade: B+.
Snaps: 70. Stats: None.
Montgomery has stabilized the Broncos center position, but that does not mean he has not struggled. He struggled mightily against the Bengals, especially against the run. His pass protection was solid, but had moments of horrendous blocking. His grade: C-.
Snaps: 70. Stats: 1 quarterback hurry.
Ramirez actually played one of the stronger games for the Broncos offensive linemen. He did make mistakes, but not near as many as most of those around him. His pass protection was solid, albeit a little inconsistent. In the run game, he was good. He generated solid push on a somewhat consistent basis. His grade: C+.
Snaps: 70. Stats: 1 quarterback sack allowed, 3 quarterback hits allowed and 1 quarterback hurry allowed.
Vasquez played an awful game for the Broncos. He has been struggling with pass protection the last few weeks, and it continued against the Bengals. His run blocking was not strong either. He was consistently moved around, allowing the Bengals to set the edge against him. His grade: F.
Snaps: 11. Stats: None.
Clark played a solid game for his limited snaps. He did next to nothing wrong, but did next to nothing well either. He just played an "okay" game and did what he was supposed to do. His grade: C.
OL Ben Garland
Snaps: 1. Stats: None.
Garland played one snap, as a run blocker for the Broncos. He was the lead blocker for a rushing touchdown. His grade: C+.
Again, the Broncos had a rough day on offense. They started off weak and it continued until the third quarter, when they started to look like they were turning things around. Then the fourth quarter hit. The Broncos offense just fell apart. The offensive line failed as a unit and Manning was having a difficult time, throwing interceptions.
Moving forward, the Broncos offense needs to put their pieces together. They have the run game and a passing game, just unable to do one while doing the other. The need to get to a point they can run effectively out of a three wide receiver set, or pass effectively out of their two tight end or jumbo formation.
Next up are the Oakland Raiders. With a Broncos win, they clinch the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. If they lose, they can potentially end up as the No. 3 seed.